Economics and livelihoods of small-scale inland fisheries in the Lower by hwh10252


									                                     Water Policy 11 Supplement 1 (2009) 31–51

 Economics and livelihoods of small-scale inland fisheries in the
Lower Mekong Basin: a survey of three communities in Cambodia
                             Hap Navya and Madhusudan Bhattaraib
    Inland Fisheries Research and Development Institute (IFReDI), Fisheries Administration, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
       Corresponding author. AVRDC -The World Vegetable Center, P.O. Box 42, Shanhua, Tainan, Taiwan, 74199.


   This paper presents economic analysis, viability and trade-off issues for small-scale (family) inland capture
fisheries in three fishing communities, each representing a distinct floodplain characteristic in Cambodia. The average
net profits of family fishing was US$12 and US$4.6 per trip during the open (October to May) and close (June to
September) seasons, respectively; but real profit—deducting the cost for family labour from net profit—was only
US$4.5 and US$1.6 during the open and close seasons, respectively. The return from family fishing varied greatly
across sites surveyed, depending on the quality of the fishing grounds, hydro-ecology settings, local institutions, and
socio-economic factors. The high degree of seasonality, the spatial variation of returns and costs of capture fisheries
suggest interdependence of fishing activities with basin-level water allocation policies, and also related trade-off in
the fisheries sector with water allocation and water resources management policies. There is also now an urgent need
for synergy of the various rural development efforts with that of fisheries policies in the Mekong River Basin.

    Keywords: Cambodia; Cost benefit analysis; Economic analysis; Family fishing; Household survey;
Mekong River Basin; Participatory assessment; Trade-off; Water allocations

1. Introduction

  This paper summarizes the findings of a case study on economic profitability and viability of small-
scale capture fisheries in Cambodia. Cambodia is a major annual floodplain area of the Lower Mekong
Basin (LMB), with unique ecological charecteristics. Fishing is an important livelihood activity in
Cambodia, and Cambodia’s inland fishery is the most productive in the region, and is the fourth most
productive in the world after China, India and Bangladesh (Van Zalinge et al., 2001). The livelihoods of
25– 30% of Cambodians (i.e. over 4 million people) directly depend upon small-scale fisheries activities.
In this context, this study evaluates the economic performance of family fishing, and also explains
opportunities provided and constraints faced by family fishers, and how it affects fisheries policies and
doi: 10.2166/wp.2009.002

q IWA Publishing 2009
32                        H. Navy and M. Bhattarai / Water Policy 11 Supplement 1 (2009) 31–51

trade-offs with fisheries (aquaculture) and other sectors in Cambodia. This is done by case studies
undertaken in three different provinces of Cambodia, with distinct hydro-ecological characteristics,
along the Mekong River.
   From ancient times, fishery and paddy cultivation have been two primary occupations in Cambodia
and in several other parts of the LMB. On average, fishery contributes about 10% of the national
economy and plays a very critical role in sustaining rural livelihoods in Cambodia (Kurien et al., 2006).
In particular, inland fisheries play a very critical role in maintaining local, regional and national food
security, and rural employment and a safety net for millions of rural poor households in Cambodia.
Small-scale fisheries (SSF) are also very important sources of tax-revenue for local government in
Cambodia. It is also the simplest and easiest means to maintain livelihoods of the poor, with little or
almost zero external investment (Rab et al., 2005). The historical trends of captured fisheries
and aquaculture production in Cambodia are summarized in Figure 1, and details can be found in
Hap & Bhattarai (2006).
   Past studies on fisheries in the LMB have focused largely on fish biology, fish migration patterns, and
related ecosystem and habitats issues, but with limited focus on economic analysis or cost and
profitability assessment of the fishing activities. Assessment of economic viability and sustainability of
the small-scale fishing sector, based on its long-term economic viability and sustainability, is always a
debated policy issue in the literature (see Panayotou, 1985; Ahmed et al., 1998; Deap, 1999; Hortle et al.,
2004; Hap et al., 2006). In Cambodia, historically, public policy strategies and policy discussions on
fisheries are directed largely towards managing and regulating large- and medium-scale fisheries, rather
than small-scale inland fisheries. It is only recently that some significant changes in fishing sector rules
and regulations have begun to allow communities to control and manage fisheries resources locally,
under the banner of community fisheries programs.
   Through a detailed economic analysis of SSF at selected locations in Cambodia, this study provides
improved information and a knowledge base on trade-off issues in managing inland capture SSF with the

Fig. 1. Freshwater fish production in Cambodia, 1980– 2004. Figure 1 suggests a sharp increase in capture fisheries and
aquaculture production after 1997; however, this is mainly due to an adjustment in fisheries sector national statistics in the mid
1990s: before 1997, there was a gross under reporting of catch data due to the civil war and political unrests in the country
(see also Ahmed et al., 1998).
                      H. Navy and M. Bhattarai / Water Policy 11 Supplement 1 (2009) 31–51              33

aquaculture and non-fisheries sector rural development programs, and also in related water allocation
policies in the country. The trade-off on managing different sub-sectors of fisheries and water allocation
policies across the sectors, and its dynamics and seasonality, arises due to differences in rural labour
market structures (economic incentives) and varying labour productivity (return) across the sub-sectors
of the rural economy. This trade-off is in fact affected by differences in hydro-ecology and agro-ecology
factors that determine fisheries yields at a place and at any moment of time.
   The second section of this paper presents its objectives and scope. The third section provides a review
of key literature, whilst the fourth section illustrates methodology and analytical techniques used, and
the data collection techniques followed for the field study. The fifth section provides results and key
findings, and a cross-sites comparison of economic costs and returns of small-scale capture fishing
activities across the fishing communities surveyed. The final section summarizes key points, and
presents our conclusions and the policy implications of the study.

2. Objectives and scope

  The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the economic performance, and costs and benefits, of
small-scale inland capture fisheries in Cambodia. The specific objectives of this study are:

. to carry out a socio-economic assessment of small-scale inland captured fisheries in Cambodia;
. to identify and evaluate detailed cost structures and economic profitability of small-scale captured
  fisheries; and
. to analyze and discuss critical public policy issues and policy prescriptions for improved management
  of small-scale inland fisheries in Cambodia.

   Better understanding of the economic analysis and costs and returns of family fishing is important in
Cambodia at a time when rapid changes in structure and function of its national and regional economy
are taking place. The economy of the Mekong region as such has grown at very quickly over the last
two decades; the fisheries sector can not be isolated from such big changes and needs to adapt to these
changes in the national/regional economy. Fisheries sector activities, and particularly family fishing
activities, are closely dependent on rural labour markets and other elements of the rural economy.
Additionally, the increased emphasis in the Mekong region on free-trade in agricultural commodities
and other sectors of the national economy, including fish and aquatic produce, will also dramatically
affect fisheries activities. This affects both small- and large-scale fisheries. The more robust the fishing
sector, the better it can adapt and be resilient to external changes.
   Therefore, a better understanding of the basic economic fundamentals (cost and benefit structures) of
family fisheries in Cambodia is, at this time, very important for setting national and regional fisheries
strategies, and for fisheries sector policies in Cambodia and the Lower Mekong region as a whole.
Moreover, the information gained would be equally useful to areas outside of the Mekong region with
similar socio-economic constraints. The improved knowledgebase of the economics of SSF developed
here would be useful in managing effective trade-offs and better synergy in water allocation across all
sectors of rural development. This is particularly critical in designing efficient policies and programs for
managing water resources, including allocation of river water for managing natural resources and
agricultural development activities in the Lower Mekong region.
34                      H. Navy and M. Bhattarai / Water Policy 11 Supplement 1 (2009) 31–51

3. Overview of fishery activities in Cambodia

   The fisheries and wetlands systems of Cambodia have unique characteristics and are important
ecosystem habitats for many species of fishes and other aquatic animals. Cambodia’s fisheries sector
encompasses extensive freshwater fisheries within floodplains, river, lakes, marine fisheries, rice field
fisheries, and several types of aquaculture. Over 500 species of fishes are available in the Cambodian
flood plain. Over 90% of the fish production in Cambodia comes from inland fisheries, mainly caught in
the floodplain areas along the Mekong River. Fish catch statistics in Cambodia vary from study to study,
and by year to year. Unlike crop production statistics, there are no uniform and consistent recording
systems or census-monitoring systems established for fish statistics in Cambodia. The annual inland fish
catch in Cambodia in the mid 1990s ranged between 290,000 and 430,000 tons (Rainboth, 1996; Ahmed
et al., 1998; Thouk & Nam, 2000; DoF, 2004), which represents the fourth largest inland fish catch
globally, and lagging behind only by China, Indian and Bangladesh.
   The total landing value of fish caught inland in Cambodia is over US$500 million per annum.
Additionally, the fisheries sector in Cambodia also provides direct employment of over 4 million
people and indirect employment and livelihood support to a few million more. In addition to direct
employment catching fish, quite large numbers of Cambodians are involved in secondary and
tertiary activities such as in fish processing and other related activities, all of which are not yet
consistently documented or accounted for in Cambodia and the Mekong region (van Zalinge et al.,
2001; Touch & Todd, 2003).
   Ahmad et al. (1998) reported that about 87% of sampled households, from a large-scale household
survey in eight provinces in Cambodia, belonged to small-scale (or family) fishing, 9% of their
sampled fishing households were engaged in middle-scale fishing, 1% in large-scale fishing, and about
3% were engaged as commercial fish workers. A Cambodian government study reported that the
contribution of the fisheries sector to the national economy of Cambodia ranged from 8% to 10% of
the total GDP of US$2,800 million in 1999 (MAFF, 1999), which seems to be grossly understating the
real contribution of fisheries compared to recent findings. A recent study by Hap et al. (2006) found
that the direct income of fisheries in the Tonle Sap lake system in Cambodia was about US$230
million/year. Hence, the fisheries contribution of US$280 million to national economy, as reported in
some of the past studies cited here, clearly underestimates the real contribution of fisheries sector
activities to the current Cambodian economy. There are no detailed national based statistics, based on
a national level census, of the total annual fish catch and contribution of fisheries in Cambodia; thus,
despite their importance, the economic aspects of the small-scale inland fisheries in Cambodia are still
not fully understood. In the past, most of the economic returns and profitability studies in Cambodia
focused mainly on large- and medium-scale fisheries. There is no unanimous view on annual fish
catch level (or profitability) of family fishing per household (or per operator) in Cambodia or in the
Mekong basin itself1.
   Considering the importance of family fishing activities in the Mekong basin, and the wide spatial and
seasonal variation in availability of fish and fish catch due to local ecosystem and habitat characteristics,

  Only recently in 2007, the Mekong River Commission (MRC) has initiated a new project on “economic valuation of Mekong
fisheries” which is expected to provide better results, and updated information, on total fish catch in Mekong and include
the total catch of SSF, showing the importance of fisheries to the national and regional economy (MRC press release,
24 April 2007, also Svendrup-Jensen, 2005).
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the high variation of per capita fish catch across the past studies in Cambodia is not unexpected. Unlike
crop yield, fish catch per operator, particularly in the case of family fishing, varies widely from operator
to operator and from one fishing site to another, and even across floodplain types. Also, the type of gear
used, the fishing season, and level of effort and technologies applied also influence the fish catch. Even
with all other things equal, even within a single day, the fish caught by an average fisher varies
depending upon duration of fishing, time of fishing (morning or evening), and so on. Therefore, unlike
crop yield, the risks and vulnerabilities associated with fisheries, and particularly in small-scale fisheries,
are substantially high2. These factors have led to missing data on national fish catches and the economy-
wide contribution of SSF and family fisheries in the Mekong basin, and in turn to a neglect of the
fisheries sector water allocation factor when designing national and regional water allocation and water
management policies and programs.

4. Methodology and data

   This study used both primary and secondary sources of information. A combination of Participatory
Rural Appraisal (PRA), individual household survey (among the representative fishers), and key
informant survey methods were adopted for data collection in each of the communities selected for field
work in three provinces of Cambodia. The integration of participatory assessment with the individual
household survey with structured questionnaires also provided an opportunity to evaluate the economics
of SSF activities from several socio-institutional settings, economic profitability, and incentive
structures to the individual households for its engaging in SSF at any place and time. This also provided
an synergy effect for data collection and evaluation efforts, and collection of a comprehesive amount of
information about SSF in a relatively short time period.
   Various tools and techniques of PRA3 were used with the help of checklists and semi-structured
questionnaires, such as Focus Group Discussions, Trend Analysis, Venn Diagrams, Resources
Flow Assessment, Problem Ranking, average costs and return structures in the community, and so on
(see Table 1). Then, for household-specific issues on costs and returns, personal credit, profits etc,
selected representative small-scale fishing households were interviewed on a one-to-one basis with the
help of a semi-structured questionnaire. Detailed discussions on methods, survey sites, tools and
techniques are in Hap & Bhattarai (2006), and a summary of the methodology and data collection tools
are described in this section.
   Similarly, a dynamic spatial assessment of SSF in Cambodia was done by a 25-year trend analysis
of SSF and a detailed economic analysis of open/close fishing seasons. During the open fishing
season (from October to May), the Cambodian government has historically allowed large and
medium-scale fishing4. During the close season, from June to September, medium and large-scale
fishing in inland fisheries is officially banned, largely to protect fish breeding populations, brooder fish
and critical fisheries nurseries in the Mekong River and wetlands systems.

  Detailed discussions on these issues are in Navy & Bhattarai (2006).
  The descriptions these PRA tools can be found in Neela (1994).
  The government (fisheries department) issues permits and licenses to large- and medium-scale fishing lots to operate during the
open season (October–May), with some royalty going to each major fishing ground; large- and medium-scale fishers are banned to
operate in the close season. Moreover, small-scale fishing and/or family fishing operators are allowed to operate all year round, but
with some restrictions and conditions attached on what types and sizes of gear the family fishers can use during the close season.
36                       H. Navy and M. Bhattarai / Water Policy 11 Supplement 1 (2009) 31–51

Table 1. Major tools and techniques of Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) used for the field survey in Cambodia, 2005.
PRA-tools                           Major variables (issues) collected
Time line                           Important historical event/development in the village
                                    Key historical facts on family fisheries in the village
                                    Key events with significant impacts on local livelihoods
                                    Change in ethnic group and demographic features
                                    Change in access and right to use natural resources
Trend analysis                      Changes over time in number of fishers in the village
                                    Change over time in total catch per household
                                    Change in input costs for fishing, cage, pond, etc
                                    Change in total catch at village level
                                    Change in returns from fisheries per trip per household
Focus group discussion              Identify participation in different fishing activities and by types of aquaculture
                                      adopted in the village
                                    General discussions on wide ranging issues of SSF
                                    Economic factors affecting fisheries in the villages
Resource flow diagram                Existence of natural resource in the village (e.g. fisheries, wetland, flooded forest, etc.)
                                    Inflow and outflow of major produces from the village
Venn/Institutional diagram          Identification of important institutions/organizations
                                    Level of intensification of interactions between the villagers and the institutions
                                    The villagers’ perceptions on importance of institutions, and kind of relationships
                                      that exist
Cost and benefits of production      Cost and benefits (profit) of small-scale inland fishing
                                    Cost and benefits of aquaculture (cage, pond, rice fish culture)
Problem ranking                     Identify, compare, prioritize, and rank the major problems in small-scale fishing
                                      in the village

4.1. Field survey sites in Cambodia

   After consultation with provincial fisheries officials and other key stakeholders, the authors selected
three study villages to represent the three major ecosystems of Cambodian fisheries for detailed field
survey (see Figure 2). The three sites selected were:

1. Kampong Chhnang province site—representing the Great lake ecosystem and flood plain
2. Takeo province site—representing the Mekong-Bassac ecosystem; and
3. Stung Treng province site—representing the Upper part of the Mekong ecosystem.

  The field study was carried out in close cooperation with the Department of Fisheries of Cambodia.
The authors consulted central and provincial level officials from the Department of Fisheries for
identification of representative communities in each of the provinces selected5.

  For a community-level survey in Cambodia, we selected Chong Koh and Kampong Tache villages in Kampong Chhnang
province; Chong Tnal and Tropaing Kabas villages in Takeo province; and Koh Sneng and Bachong villages in Stung Treng
province. The field survey was carried out during July– December of 2005.
                       H. Navy and M. Bhattarai / Water Policy 11 Supplement 1 (2009) 31–51                  37

Fig. 2. Map of Cambodia showing the field study sites in Kampong Chhnang, Takeo, and Stung Treng provinces.

4.2. The survey tools and techniques

4.2.1. Tools for participatory rural appraisal (PRA). PRAs were carried out in each of the
communities identified for detailed assessment and survey. After discussion with key informants,
10– 12 small-scale fishing households in each of the communities were consulted in a group, for
participatory assessment and discussion of SSF in the location. In consultation with the local key
informants (school teachers and village chief) in the village, these representative small-scale fishers (or
family fishers) were selected based on their ability to recall SSF activities over the last 1 – 2 years and to
provide useful and accurate information. The sampling was therefore not random but based on
information provided to us by key informants about those fishers predominantly involved in small-scale
fishing activities in each site, and who could potentially provide the costs and returns related
information required.
   The information collected from the PRA surveys was cross-checked with information collected from
key informant surveys, and/or from a few experienced fishers in the village, and with information from
detailed individual household survey data. The PRA tools used included Focus Group Discussion
(FGD), time line, trend analysis, resources flow, participatory impacts assessment, Venn/institutional
diagram, cost and benefit analysis, and problem ranking (see Table 1). The information from
participatory assessment is very useful to characterize socio-institutional elements of family fishing, and
cost and return of the fishing effort (SSF) in the selected communities.

4.2.2. Household survey tools. To supplement the information collected from the PRA tools, an
individual household survey with structured questionnaires was carried out in the selected villages. In
addition to deriving detailed costs-benefits and profitability of small-scale fishing, individual household
survey also facilitated collecting information on individual credit and livelihood activities, and access
and constraints facing the small-scale fisheries. In total, 16 representative households of family fishers
38                    H. Navy and M. Bhattarai / Water Policy 11 Supplement 1 (2009) 31–51

(SSF) were selected from the three villages. These representative fishers (family fishers) were selected
for detailed household survey from the true representatives of the fishing communities in the area, in
terms of their activities and overall socio-economic conditions (details in Hap & Bhattarai, 2006).

4.3. Data analysis

   The basic features of local institutional settings and the pattern of recent changes in small-scale fishing
activities are almost identical in each of the three provinces surveyed. Hence, the illustration of
qualitative results (from PRA survey) and the qualitative analysis and institutional assessments of
the small-scale capture fisheries from one province should provide a good indication to the other
two provinces as well. However, for cost and return analysis, we have compared the results across the
three communities, each from a different province as noted earlier. In addition to the spatial
differentiation, we have derived a separate economic analysis of fishing effort in each survey-site for the
open season (October– May) and for the close season (June– September). Detailed information on socio-
economic characteristics, cost structures used in a fishing trip, level of fish catch, different measures of
economic profitability (with and without taking family labour in to consideration), species of fish caught,
and market sale patterns and profitability structures of fishing efforts were generated. This was followed
by an analysis of income, employment, and livelihood implications of the fishing. Gross return was taken
to be the monetary value that fishers derive from the catch of fish and non-fish (other aquatic animals and
vegetables) in a fishing trip. The fishing trip was considered here as a day of fishing which included
two person labour days (household head and another labourer) with a motorized boat. The net profit was
obtained by subtracting total cost (variable cost and fixed cost) from gross return, and likewise real profit
was derived when the cost for family labour use is also subtracted from the net profit.

5. Results

  This section provides results from both a qualitative and quantitative survey. First, the results from
PRA and participatory assessments are discussed and then followed by results on economic analysis,
carried out based on a semi-structured household survey.

5.1. Qualitative analysis of family fishing in Stung Treng

5.1.1. General overview. Stung Treng province is located in the northern part of Cambodia, adjacent to
the Lao PDR (Figure 2), and consists of 11,110 km2 with a population density of 8.3 persons/km2 (Israel
et al., 2005). In 1998, Stung Treng had a population of 81,000, which increased to 92,000 in 2004, an
increase of 2.3% per annum over the period. Koh Sneng village in Stung Treng was selected for the field
study, which is located in Koh Sneng Commune of Thalaboriwat District, and is also one of the key
Ramsar sites in Cambodia. This is an island type of village along the mainstream Mekong river, i.e., it is
trapped by river streams of the Mekong on all four sides, and it is accessible only by boat along the main
Mekong river. The village is located about 18 km north of Stung Treng, the central town of Stung Treng
province, and it takes about 1.5 hours on motorized boat to reach the village from Stung Treng town.
There were about 170 households in this village in 2005, with a population of 950. Khmer and Lao are
the two major ethnic groups residing in the village. The fish catches from this village are shipped to
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both Stung Treng market in the south (in Cambodia) as well as to the border market in Laos (on the
Laos– Cambodia border), about 25 km north of the village. Household income and credit system. The main occupation of the households residing in Koh
Sneng villages is fishing and rice farming, with 90% of the households engaged in family fishing and
farming as their main livelihood occupation. The rest are either only farmers (not engaged in fishing),
small traders such as grocery shop owners, boat owners (drivers), and daily wageworkers. Due to
increased market access in the recent past, the proportion of the market sale of fish catch has increased in
the village. Fish from this village is taken as far as the wholesale markets in Bangkok (Thailand),
through the Laos – Cambodia border market. Pakxe market in southern Laos is a main transit route for the
transboundary sale of fish from Cambodia to Thailand (via Laos). The annual gross revenue (without
accounting input costs) of the sampled SSF household in the village ranged from 2,596,000 Riel (USD
650) to 12,770,000 Riel (USD 3,190), with an average of 6,889,400 Riel (or USD 1,722).
   The input costs on fishing have sharply increased recently leading to a sharp decline in profit margin
for the small-scale fishers6. In the absence of access to formal credit institutions, the family fishers
borrow cash needed for fishing equipment (and for family needs) from their relatives, friends, local
moneylenders (usually fish traders), credit-related projects in the communities, and public banks/
cooperatives located nearby. For fishing and other short-term loans, the local credit project in the area
charges an interest rate on loans of 3-4% per month (36% to 48% per annum), whereas the local money
lenders charge about 6 – 8% per month (i.e., 72 –96% per annum), an interest rate double that of the
formal credit institutions; however, the fish traders provide credit to the fishers without collateral and
therefore bear the risk of bad loans (default). Because of a lack of a soft loan option in the village
surveyed, the fishers borrow from the fish traders at an exhorbitant rate during the lean catch season
(May to September). Characteristics of fishing gear/equipment used by small-scale fishing.Gill nets, cast nets, bamboo
traps, and seine nets were the main fishing gear commonly used by family fishers (SSF) in the surveyed
village. Among them, the gill net is the most commonly used fishing gear during both open season and
close seasons. A typical family fishing household keeps an average of about 3 to 5 dais (gill nets)7, and
the average length of a gill net is about 60 m per dai (with a range of 30 to 80 m). All sampled fishing
households selected in the village kept a boat for fishing purposes, and the average capacity of boat
ranged from 0.4 to 0.8 tons for non-motorized and motorized boats, respectively. The use of motorized
boats is a rising trend in all of the villages surveyed, largely due to increased availability of low-cost
small engines in the markets in the last 20 –30 years. The recent reduced restrictions on the import of
new and second-hand motor engines from abroad has greatly facilitated adoption of such engines on the
boats of many family fishers in Cambodia. Likewise, the number of species of fish catch (and size and
quantity of fish) greatly varies between open and close seasons (details in Hap & Bhattarai, 2006).

  The price of fuel for boat engines, the single largest component of fishing costs, increased in late 2007 to more than three times
the price prevailing during the field survey period in late 2005; the price reduced in late 2008 to almost the same as it was during
the survey.
  Gill nets are a series of panels of meshes with a weighted “foot rope” along the bottom, and a “headline”, to which floats are
attached. They are set to fish at any height in the water column along the river. The meshes of a gill net are uniform in size and
shape, hence highly selective for a particular size of fish.
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Table 2. Trends in key variables related to family fisheries in Koh Sneng village, Stung Treng, Cambodia, 1980– 2005. The
trends are a summary of the trend analysis technique of PRA; a diagrammatic illustration of these variables, as compiled during
the PRA session of the field study, is provided in Appendix Table 1.
                                 Fish Catch/                                     Total fish catch
         Fisher population       household/trip        Cost/fishing trip          in Village               Fish Profit
Year     No.     % change        Kg     % change       Index     % change        Index      % change      Index     % change
1980     85                      2                     5                         5                        5
1990     130      53             15      650           7          40             15         200           10         100
2000     160      23             10      233           10         43             11        2 27           6          240
2005     185      16             4       260           12         20             5         2 55           3          250
Note: Catch/household/trip: one fishing trip of inland fisheries in Cambodia ranges from 1 to 3 days. An average taken here is
      1 day per trip.

5.1.2. Major changes in fishing activities and outcomes. Major changes, from 1980 to 2005, in fishing
activities and fisheries resources in the Koh Sneng village (as revealed by the PRA), were analyzed by
trend analysis tools and the results are summarized in Table 2. The major points of the data are
summarized below:

1. After 1990, the population of the village started to rise due to migration from nearby villages and also
   partly due to increased natural population growth. The fishing households increased from 85 in 1980
   to 185 households in 2005, a 120% growth in 25 years (about 4.8% of annual average growth rate).
2. In 1980, fishing was undertaken mostly for household consumption, using manually-powered boats and
   simple types of fishing gear. At that time, the fish (trading) market in the village and nearby area was not
   well developed, and thus the local market was not linked to an outside fish market. In 1980, the average
   catch per trip per household was about 2 kg, increasing to about 15 kg/trip during 1990, immediately after
   the introduction of motor engines on fishing boats. Later, by 2000, the average fish catch reduced to only
   10 kg/day, and in 2005 it was further reduced to 4 kg/day (mostly in the later part of the open season).
3. Average fish catch per effort has been a declining trend due to an increasing fisher population, the use
   of sophisticated fishing techniques (motorized boats and improved types of gear), and the use of
   illegal gears and illegal fishing techniques (e.g. the use of explosives and electrocution) during the
   fish breeding season. During the open season, several fishermen from other villages encroach on the
   fishing grounds of the Koh Sneng village (and also use illegal fishing techniques)8. All of these have
   contributed to the recent decline in fish catch per trip.
4. The input costs for fishing operations have been sharply increasing over the years, and in 2005 were almost
   double the level of 2000. The recent sharp increase in fuel prices is one of the underlying factors,
   as the fuel costs of a motorboat alone constitute more than 50% of the total fishing operational costs.
5. In 1980, fisheries resources were abundant, but the total fish catch of the village as a whole was small,
   as there were fewer fishers operating in the village. However, by the early 1990s, the total catch per
   household decreased but the total village catch increased by about 200%, slightly decreasing again
   after 2000.

  Some of the fishing grounds in Stung Treng have been over-stretched; and the fishers therefore suggested an urgent need for
the rehabilitation of fish habitats, flooded forest, etc, in Stung Treng province.
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Table 3. Problem ranking of SSF in Koh Sneng village in Sturng Treng, Cambodia, 2005.
Problem faced                                                                                            Ranking of the problem
Increase in fishing input prices (gillnet, fuel, machine)                                                 1
Increase in illegal fishing (electrocution, use of explosives, fishing by outsiders)                       2
Decrease in fish catch                                                                                    3
Increase in non-indigenous fishers in the area                                                            4
Water level changes rapidly and also reduced flow                                                         5
Increased sedimentation and increased green algae                                                        6
1 ¼ Highest rank order among the factors; and 6 ¼ lowest rank order.

6. Small-scale fishing households had high profits margin from fishing activities until 1990, but margins
   started to decline sharply from 2000 onward. This was due to the increased fuel price, increased cost
   of fishing materials/equipment and other fishing inputs, and simultaneously also due to diminishing
   fish availability in the area because of the cumulative effects of several factors, as noted earlier. In
   2005, in open season, a typical household could hardly catch fish sufficient for household
   consumption; hence the sale of catches to traders was at its lowest level in that year.
7. The fish market in the area came into existence in the middle of 1985. Since then, the total catch and
   sale of fish in the village have increased over the years. Before 1985, getting fish to market was a
   major problem for SSF in the area.
5.1.3. Ranking of major problems felt by the fishing community. A problem ranking method was
adopted to identify, compare, and prioritize major problems that faced by the majority of fishing
households in the community. The results show that there are six major problems now faced by
small-scale fishers in Cambodia (see Table 3). The main problems are the recent increased price of fuel
(for motorized boats) and fishing gear, and then the increasing practices of illegal fishing (use of
explosives and electrocution) leading to a decrease in fish catch. Mobile fishers, with their excessive
mobility along the river, lead to conflicts with the local community members. The interviewed group
reported that the river was becoming shallower in recent years (and especially, along the Mekong river, the
level of river water was receding quickly after the main rain season, compared to the situation in the past)9.

5.2. Economic analysis of small-scale fishing in Cambodia

   In this section, we carry out an economic analysis of SSF by estimating net returns/income of
small-scale fishing trips (family fishers) in the three villages selected for study. For this purpose, 4 – 5
fishers from each village (about 16 fishers in total) were individually surveyed using semi-structured
questionnaires, as noted earlier. The major objective here was to make cross-village and cross-seasonal
comparisons of the major components of costs and returns of small-scale fishing efforts over the three
sites studied. By doing so, the key economic parameters of cost-benefit analysis are derived and
compared across the sites and by two fishing seasons (open and close season, as noted earlier).

  Many experts in Cambodia, and some of the informed local community leaders, think that this could be due to several dams
recently constructed upstream of the Mekong river. However, the high fluctuation of the Mekong River is still an unverified fact
and a debated technical issue, even among scientists at a national and regional level, and there is a lack of a rigorous assessment
on the topic.
42                    H. Navy and M. Bhattarai / Water Policy 11 Supplement 1 (2009) 31–51

The key findings and main points of the economic analysis (cost and benefit analysis) of SSF
are summarized in Table 4. Detailed component results are provided in Appendix Table 2, and also in
Hap & Bhattarai (2007).

5.2.1. Costs and returns of SSF. The results from cost and return analysis vary greatly across the three
villages surveyed (see Table 4). An average fishing household gets a gross return (gross benefits without
subtracting any costs for fishing) of about US$17 out of a fishing trip during the open season; but only
about US$9 per trip during the close season. The gross return from SSF (out of fish and non-fish catch)
varies not only by location (province) but also by the fishing seasons (see Table 4 and Figure 3). The
average fish catch also widely differs across households by location and by season (and month of year).
   Gross return is the monetary value that fishers derive from the catch of fish and non-fish (other aquatic
animals and vegetables) in a fishing trip. The fishing trip is considered here as a day which includes two
person labour days (household head and another labourer) and a motorized boat. Most of the fish catch
during open season is sold and a small quantity kept for household consumption (less than 10– 15% of
total catch), which also largely varies from fisher to fisher depending upon his/her livelihood dependency
on fishing activity at any time. In fact, sale of fish from capture fisheries along the river and wetlands
is one of the main sources of cash income for many of the poor households in rural Cambodia (and in
the Lower Mekong river basin). The high fluctuation of fish catch by season and by location suggests
a high vulnerability of capture fisheries in the region and trade-off in family fishers’ efforts for fishing
and non-fishing sector activities (farming and other activities) for sustaining their livelihoods in the
Mekong basin.
   Total cost of fishing has been separated in to variable costs (VC) and fixed costs (FC) per fishing trip
(or day). The variable costs of fishing are about four times higher than the fixed costs. Variable costs
alone were about 25% and 37% of the gross returns during the open and close seasons, respectively
(Table 4). As for gross returns, there is also a high variation in fishing costs and profits across the fishing
sites and across seasons (Figure 4).
   On average, the net profit of family fishing was US$11.7 per fishing trip (one day) during the open
season, whereas it was only of US$4.6 during the close season (see Table 4 and Appendix Table 2). This
suggests that, overall, small-scale fishing in Cambodia and in the LMB in particular is a profitable
activity for many family fishers, and this would continue to be the same in the near future unless the real
labour wage rate (and costs of other inputs) in the region rise substantially. Likewise, real profit is
derived by subtracting opportunity costs for family labour use from net profit (see Table 4), which was
on average about US$8 per trip during the open season, but only an average of about US$1.5 during the
close season. The real profit is a true economic parameter for gauging economic profitability and
comparative advantage of a business activity with that of others. Even though real profit overall is
positive for an average family fishing in Cambodia, for many places it is at a minimum level during the
4– 5 months of the close season (at less than US$2/day). This suggests that family fishers would easily
shift to other economic and livelihood activities (such as aquaculture or farming) during the close season
if the returns from those alternate activities were higher than US$2/day. In the three villages surveyed,
and in many other places in Cambodia (and in LMB), family fishers usually plant paddy and other crops
during the close fishing season, and return to fishing again from October (as the open season starts) when
fisheries are abundant in the Mekong river and the surrounding wetlands.
   With this low level of profitability from fish catches during the close season, small-scale fishing
households have to depend on other non-fishing activities (at least during the close season) to maintain
Table 4. Cost and profitability structures of small-scale fishing across three provinces in Cambodia, 2005. A breakdown of each of the key indicators in the

                                                                                                                                                                      H. Navy and M. Bhattarai / Water Policy 11 Supplement 1 (2009) 31–51
table is provided in Appendix Table 2 (and further details are in Hap & Bhattarai (2006)).
                                          Unit: US$ per fishing trip
                                          K. Chhnang                       Takeo                           Stung Treng                     Average of all
                                          Open          Close              Open            Close           Open            Close           Open           Close
Description                               Season        Season             Season          Season          Season          Season          Season         Season
I. Gross return                           14.50            6.38            9.00            5.37            27.00           15.13           16.8            9.0
A. Total variable cost                     3.75            2.95            3.90            2.24             5.13            5.13            4.3            3.4
B. Total fixed cost                         0.65            0.65            0.85            0.83             1.14            1.14            0.9            0.9
II. Total costs (A þ B)                    4.40            3.60            4.85            3.08             6.26            6.26            5.2            4.3
III. Gross profit (I 2 A)                  10.75            3.43            5.00            3.12            22.00           10.00           12.6            5.5
IV. Net profit (I 2 II)                    10.10            2.78            4.15            2.29            20.74            8.86           11.7            4.6
V. Opportunity costs for                   3.75            2.5             2.5             1.75             5               5               3.8            3.1
family labour uses
V. Real profit (Net profit minus              6.35           0.28            1.65            0.58            15.75            3.86            7.9            1.5
costs for family labour)
Notes: All of these estimates on cost and returns of fishing are for a boat fishing trip (usually of one day). (1) Gross return: includes gross value of fish
       (quantity*price) and other non fish aquatic products caught per boat trip; (2) Total Variable Cost (or operating cost): includes here all those costs that
       are related to the boat trip, fuel cost, food items, hired labour cost, etc; (3) Total Fixed Cost (or capital cost): includes long-term investments such as
       daily depreciation value of boat and gear, etc; (4) Total Cost: the sum of total variable cost (or operating cost) and total fixed cost (capital cost);
       (5) Gross Profit: derived by subtracting the total variable cost from the total gross return, and it indicates a short-run economic viability; (6) Net profit:
       derived by subtracting total fishing cost from the total gross return, which excludes opportunity cost for the family labour used; (7) Opportunity Cost of
       family labour: the value of family labour if not employed in family fishing (equal to local wage rate); (8) Real profit: derived by subtracting opportunity
       cost of family labour from the Net profit; it indicates a long-term economic viability of the fishing activity, as it takes into consideration the family
       labour used and is well linked with level of other livelihood opportunities available locally.

44                        H. Navy and M. Bhattarai / Water Policy 11 Supplement 1 (2009) 31–51

Fig. 3. Variation of gross return of family fishing activity across three provinces in Cambodia, 2005.

their livelihoods. If family fishers depend upon fishing sector activities alone for their family livelihoods,
then it is possible that they just transfer additional income saved during the open season to the close
season to sustain their livelihoods, as the fish catch is very little in the close season. In cases with an
absence of another livelihood during the close season, the family fishing and small-scale fishing sector
could easily become a poverty trap; and family fishers are always locked in at a poverty threshhold level
income, meeting the subsistence needs of the close season by transferring savings from the open season.
This situation is more likely to occur when the fisher population has increased at a much faster pace than
the fish catch, which remains stagnant or declines over time; this situation has already been observed in
several parts of Cambodia and Laos, where there are relatively few opportunities for rural employment
   In all three provinces surveyed, on average, small-scale fishing has positive net profits. On the other
hand, during the close season, only the fishers in Stung Treng province achieve relatively better profits
(net as well as real profits) compared to the family fishers in the other two sites (see Table 4). This is
largely because of the fact that the fishing grounds and fishing habitats around Stung Treng are better,
and also because of high water levels (deep-water bodies) in Stung Treng even during the close season,
as a result of the typical hydrological and riverian features of the Mekong River. Flooded forests and
river spawning grounds are also closer to Koh Sneng village10 (surveyed in Stung Treng) than to the
other two sites surveyed.
   In addition, because of a well-established fish trading link with Laos market, and then access up
to Thai markets (via the Laos– Pakxe market route), at any time of year the fish price is slightly higher
in Stung Treng markets than at the other two sites surveyed. The size of fish catch in the Stung Treng
area is also slightly bigger than that in the other sites (due to different fishing habitats and riverian
eco-hydrological features). Larger-sized fish and/or those over 3 kg in weight fetch almost double price
in Stung Treng market (Keh Sneng site)11. The fish traders directly transfer fishes from Koh Sneng
village to the border market between Laos and the Cambodian market (Khambuwan market close to

   Koh Sneng village is located close to the confluence of the Sekong, a major tributary of the Mekong system, and near to large
numbers of deep water systems along the Mekong River; all of these sites offer a good fish catch.
   This is due to better transportation of larger fish over longer distances, and also due to higher demand in Thai markets for
larger size river fish than that of smaller fish.
                         H. Navy and M. Bhattarai / Water Policy 11 Supplement 1 (2009) 31–51                            45

Fig. 4. Variation of real profit (net profit minus opportunity cost of family labour) of family fishing activities across three
provinces in Cambodia, 2005.

Khon Fall - a tourist place with lots of restaurants), which is then well-linked with the domestic markets
in Thailand through an all-season highway. All of these factors (market and eco-hydrological factors)
favour a better fish catch in Stung Treng than at the two other sites surveyed.
5.2.2. Economic profitability and dynamics of SSF. The study findings from participatory assessment
and group discussions in the communities suggest that, until the 1990s, fisheries resources were
abundant in all three villages surveyed. In addition, population pressure on the fisheries at that time was
negligible. During the Pol Pot Regime (1975– 80), several restrictions were imposed on capture fishing,
especially for new immigrants and non-Khamer communities. There were restrictions on new
immigrants setting up mobile fishing camps along the river. During the 1970s and 1980s, because of a
low rural population and due to the on-going civil war in the country, there were very few fishers along
the Mekong River. Therefore, the total fish catch in the community (and in the country as such) was also
very low. Today, the fisher population in the villages surveyed (and in Cambodia as a whole) has
increased over three fold within the last two decades, resulting in intensifying pressure on fisheries. This
has brought several noticeable changes in SSF and trade-offs in water allocation across the sectors, in
water management and utilization of water and natural resources of the Mekong River and associated
wetland systems.
   The net profit and real profit (and costs) of family fishing not only differ between the open and close
seasons, but also by fishing site and community surveyed (Table 4 and Appendix Table 2). The gross
returns as well as other parameters of economic profitability are higher for the surveyed village in Stung
Treng province than is the case in the surveyed sites in Khampong Cham and Takeo provinces. This is
because of better fishing grounds along the Mekong River and the relatively less densely settled
community in Koh Snang village in Stung Treng, as noted earlier. In relative terms, the real profit of
small-scale fishing in Takeo province is substantially lower than is the case in the other two provinces.
   The fish catch per household, and so the catch per fishing trip, was relatively higher during the 1980s
and up until the early 1990s, compared to the case now. Moreover, in all of the three villages surveyed,
the fish catch per household, and/or per fishing trip, has been sharply declining since 2000. The
introduction of motor-engines (motorized fishing boats) in the mid 1980s led to a sharp increase in the
intensity of fishing in Cambodia, and such motorized boats are now very common on Cambodian rivers
and flood plains. The introduction of motorized boats was a major technological improvement for
capture fisheries in Cambodia, leading to fish catches in some of the surveyed villages increasing over
3-times within a period of 4 – 5 years.
46                    H. Navy and M. Bhattarai / Water Policy 11 Supplement 1 (2009) 31–51

   Despite declining catch per boat trip (and per household level), the overall fish catch at village level
has increased over time, as is the case reported in all of three villages surveyed (and also consistent with
the findings of an earlier study by Baran et al., 2005). Fishers are now using motorized boats, long
lengths of Gillnets and other large gear, and improved fishing techniques than were used during the early
1980. Motor operated boats also give households access to more fishing grounds along the Mekong
River than was possible 2 –3 decades earlier. Thus, more fishing grounds have been identified and are
now more intensively used (night and day fishing in the fishing season) than previously the case.
   Nevertheless, in some places in Cambodia, the per household level and village level catch has
declined recently. The reasons are increased intensive fishing efforts, an increase in the fisher population
and limited fishing grounds, the breakdown of local community-level management of the Mekong river
fisheries resources, the increased use of illegal gear and illegal fishing techniques (e.g. electro-fishing,
bomb blasting, excess use of push net), and destruction of critical fishing habitats and spawning grounds
along the Mekong River. The relative returns of SSF vary over time and space in Mekong river sites, and
is affected by several of these factors, as noted earlier.
   However, in all locations, the economic profitability of small-scale fishing varies by the fishing season
(open season versus close season, and by month). Our study findings suggest that income from capture
fishing on the Mekong river is highly seasonal, and this has also led to a higher vulnerability for family
fishers than for others. When all the costs are counted, including the cost for inputs and family labour
use, the real profit of family fishing was about US$8 per fishing trip during the open season (October to
May) and about US$1.5 per trip during the close season (June to September). Even within the open
season, the level of fish catch and profit from a fishing trip are substantially higher during the early part
of the season (October to January) than is the case during February to May. In the village in Takeo
province, the real profit in the close season was US$0.6 per trip, an income level which is not enough for
the survival of fishing households (with 4 – 5 family members) during the close season of 4– 5 months
(June to September).
   The sharply rising cost of inputs in fishing activities and lack of access to formal credit sources in rural
Cambodia have led to high dependency in the fishing community on informal credit markets and private
money lenders (usually fish traders). During the field survey, we found that some of the fishers were
borrowing short-term cash for fishing at the exorbitant rate of over 75% per annum. Hence, targeted
micro-credit related public supports including micro-finance institution (MFIs), private and national
banks for small-scale fishing communities in Cambodia could meet the small-scale fishing credit
demands, and may help reduce the high borrowing rate prevailing in the informal credit market. Better
access to micro-credit like institutions in rural Cambodia (with increased public support for rural credit)
now also encourages local business activities, which in turn helps livelihood diversification during the
close fishing season.

6. Conclusions and implications of the study

  The economic analysis of family fishing activity in Cambodia suggests that, though the profitability of
family fishing varies amongst communities and by fishing season, the major patterns and seasonal
variations in key economic parameters (profitability and cost structures) of family fishing are the same
across the three fishing communities surveyed. Compared to the situation in the late 1990s, the economic
profitability of family fishers has, on average, worsened recently, due largely to a sharply rising fisher
population. The other causal factors are the sharply increased input costs for fishing activities (increased
                      H. Navy and M. Bhattarai / Water Policy 11 Supplement 1 (2009) 31–51                47

price of fuel and other materials used for fishing), weak local fisheries governance, and weak
enforcement of fisheries rules and regulations at the local level to manage the de-facto open access
nature of river resources along the vast tract of the Mekong River Basin.
   The study findings suggest that the majority of fishers are getting a positive return from the SSF
activity, even taking into account the opportunity cost of their family labour employed in fishing. Thus,
small-scale capture fishery in Cambodia, and in LMB in particular, is an economically viable livelihood
activity, though the profit margin of SSF has been in a declining trend recently. SSF is in fact sustaining
the livelihoods of over four million family fishers in Cambodia alone, and many times more in the rural
population of the LMB as a whole. Additionally, small-scale fishing in the Mekong River also provides
employment to a rapidly growing rural population, and as such is a critical livelihood support, and
offers employment security to many millions of poor fishing households, as well as food security
(with nutritional and health benefits), and acts, as a last resort, as a means of living and as a livelihood
for millions in the Mekong basin.
   The results from economic analysis also suggest the need for an urgent public policy intervention in
some of the fishing-zones in Cambodia, where the real profit of SSF has already become negative; there
is a greater need for river basin management and water allocation strategies to address the livelihood
needs of the many family fishers in the basin. Greater emphasis on aquaculture development and on
farming and cultivation of high value vegetables and other short-duration crops could be one of the
options; but all should be done with the aim of providing alternate employment opportunities and
meeting the needs of family fishers during the close season. Some of the measures, like restoration of
fishing grounds and fish habitats, would enhance fish availability in the next season. Like the patterns of
returns and costs of SSF, the nature and level of public support also vary by location, by specific fisheries
characteristics, the hydro-ecology settings (peak flooding time and its duration), nature of river flows at
any point of time, and the capacity of local resources management institutions.
   Strengthening support for aquaculture development in selected locations of the river could assist the
millions of small-scale fishers in the Mekong basin to better meet their livelihood needs during certain
critical periods of the year (the 4 – 5 months of the close season), when the returns from riverine capture
fisheries are meager and not even adequate to meet subsistence levels. To maintain food security and the
livelihoods of the small-scale fishers in the Mekong region, there is a need to place emphasis not only on
fishery-related activities but also on non-fisheries sector activities like farming, and rural non-farm
sector activities. There is a need to find better synergy between fisheries sector policies and those of non-
fisheries sector rural development policies when making water allocation policies in the basin.
Considering the massive extent of poverty in Cambodia and in other rural areas of the Mekong Basin,
there is an urgent need to have greater public support for alternate jobs, employment, and livelihood
diversification (support for aquaculture, fish trading, farming, or other employment generation activities)
for millions of family fishers for certain periods of the year. This support should be especially targeted
during the close season, when flooding is also at a peak level in the basin.
   Such an integrated strategy for the fishing and non-fishing sectors will not only help in improving
livelihoods, but also help in protecting critical natural resources and habitats on the Mekong river,
avoiding over-fishing of spawning grounds and critical fish habitats and, in turn, improving wetlands
livelihoods on the Mekong River. All of this has benefits to socity at large and there needs to be
coordinated support at local, national and regional level. There is a debate in the literature about the pros
and cons of the scale of integration of fisheries sector activities with other components of any rural
development programme, and with commodity trade in particular. The results from trade-off analysis are
48                    H. Navy and M. Bhattarai / Water Policy 11 Supplement 1 (2009) 31–51

important due to interlinked labour markets and the high mobility of labour across sectors of the rural
economy, and its ultimate impact on water allocation and water management across the sectors. Trade-
off issues in water allocation and fisheries management policies are now important for sustaining the
livelihoods of millions of family fishers in the Mekong region.
   The declining fish catch per effort (trip in a day), and a (barely) survival level of real profitability for
fishing households in certain locations (like that of Takoe province) during the close season of fishing,
clearly indicate the importance of trade-off issues in managing fishing within a wider framework of
water allocations and rural labour markets. This also suggests a need for synergy in any FFS strategy
with the rural labour market and overall rural development strategy. The results derived in this study
would also be useful in assessing the dynamics of economic viability of small-scale fishing in Cambodia
and in the lower Mekong River Basin. This includes a search for alternate economic policies and
livelihood diversifications of many million fishers for the close season. For example, the scale and level
of actual contributions of family fishers in the national and regional economy of the Mekong Region
(and Mekong River Basin economy) is still a debated policy issue now. The study findings could provide
improved economic parameters for family fishing efforts to be encorporated into river water allocation
decisions. The results could also be useful for local, national and regional policy modeling exercises.
Besides fishery activities, the study findings have larger implications on trade-offs in water allocation
across the sectors for improving rural livelihoods and environmental sustainability.
   With very limited reliable data existing on the economics of family fishing activities in the Mekong
River Basin, the improved knowledge base of the economics of small-scale fisheries derived in this study
will have profound implications for water management and sectoral water allocation decisions. Though
the discussions in this paper are only based upon a rapid study of three communities from three provinces
in Cambodia, the same lessons and arguments can also be applied to several other parts of the Lower
Mekong Basin that are facing similar constraints and prospects.
   The major limitations of the rapid assessment method adopted in the study are the small sample size of
households surveyed, the fact that only a few villages were chosen for the detailed community-level
assessment of SSF, and that a rapid survey method tool was adopted for the data collection assignment.
The three villages selected for survey might not truly reflect all of the realities and complex dynamics of
small-scale fishing activities for the whole of Cambodia. Time and resources were major constraints for
us, meaning we were not able to study a larger sample size of villages and a larger number of households
in each of the villages surveyed. Nevertheless, using the participatory tools and group consensus for the
key socio-economic parameters, we have triangulated the key variables and elements of small-scale
fishing with different sources in the communities and in the provinces locally. Thus, although this is only
a case study of a few villages in three provinces of Cambodia, the information on economics of family
fishing as derived in this study has high public policy implications for effectively managing capture
fishing activities. This information will be equally useful in designing pro-poor fisheries and water
management strategies in Cambodia and in several other parts of the Lower Mekong Basin.


  The fieldwork and writing of the first draft of the paper were completed when the second author was
working as an Environmental Economist at Mekong Wetlands Biodiversity Conservation Programme
(MWBP) in Vientiane, Laos. The authors acknowledge the Mekong River Commission, and Mekong
Wetland Biodiversity Programme, Vientiane, Laos, for funding support for the study. We also
                          H. Navy and M. Bhattarai / Water Policy 11 Supplement 1 (2009) 31–51                             49

acknowledge the high quality research assistance support provided by Mr Kadul Kandarith and Ms Prach
Sokunthy (IFReDI/DoF). We are grateful to Chris Barlow (Fish Programme Manager, MRC/Vientiane)
and Peter-John Meynell (then program leader of MWBP) for providing administrative support and overall
guidance in carrying out this study. We also acknowledge the support of Prof. Sten Sverdrup-Jesen (IFM,
Denmark), H.E. Nao Thuok (Director General of Fisheries Department, Cambodia), and Mr Srun Lim
Song (Director of Inland Fisheries Research and Development Institute (IFReDI), Cambodia).
  Disclaimer. The opinions and interpretations of the results expressed in this paper are those of the
authors alone and they do not necessarily reflect the views of any of the organizations involved in funding
and implementing this study, nor the views of any of the organizations the authors are associated with now.


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  Hirsh, P. (eds). pp. 37 – 47.
Van Zalinge, N. P., Nao, T. & Sam, N. (2001). Status of the Cambodian inland capture fisheries sector with special reference to
  the Tonle Sap Great Lake. In Cambodia Fisheries Technical Paper Series 3. van Zalinge, N. P., Ounsted, R. & Lieng, S.
  (eds). Mekong River Commission and Department of Fisheries, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, pp. 10 – 17.

                         Received 12 November 2007; accepted in revised form 22 December 2008


Appendix Table 1. Trends in the major elements of SSF in Koh Sneng village, 1980– 2005. The symbols were used to facilitate
a lively discussion and better recall of facts amongst the villagers and participants at the PRA session, most of whom were
unable to read or write.

Note: hhs: households.
Appendix Table 2. Comparative assessment of economics of small-scale fishing across provinces in Cambodia, 2004– 05.
                                    Takeo                           Kampa Chong                     Srung Treng                     Average of 3 provinces
                                    Open            Close           Open        Close               Open            Close           Open            Close
Items                               season          Season          season      Season              Season          Season          Season          Season
I. Gross return                     14.50           6.38            9.00            5.37            27.00           15.13           16.8            9.0
Fish catch                          12.50           4.38            7.50            3.41            25.00           13.13           15.0            7.0
Aquatic animal                       1.25           1.25            1.00            1.22             1.25            1.25            1.2            1.2
Aquatic vegetable                    0.75           0.75            0.50            0.75             0.75            0.75            0.7            0.8

                                                                                                                                                               H. Navy and M. Bhattarai / Water Policy 11 Supplement 1 (2009) 31–51
Variable costs (VC)
Fuel/oil                             2.00           1.20            2.00            0.80             2.63            2.63            2.2            1.5
Food expenditure                     1.25           1.25            1.50            1.25             1.50            1.50            1.4            1.3
Other expenses                       1.25           1.25            0.50            0.25             1.00            1.00            0.9            0.8
(Cigarettes, wines, etc)
A. Total VC                          3.75           2.95            3.90            2.30             5.13            5.13            4.3            3.5
Fixed costs (FC)
Depreciation of:*
Gear/equipment                       0.24           0.24            0.31            0.31             0.20            0.20            0.3            0.3
Boat                                 0.04           0.04            0.10            0.10             0.13            0.13            0.1            0.1
Engine                               0.08           0.08            0.08            0.08             0.27            0.27            0.1            0.1
Others (Battery, Lamps)              1.25           1.25            0.14            0.14             0.11            0.11            0.5            0.5
Total depreciation                   0.38           0.38            0.64            0.64             0.70            0.70            0.6            0.6
Repairs/maintenances†                0.13           0.13            0.21            0.21             0.28            0.28            0.2            0.2
Interest on                          0.15           0.15                                             0.15            0.15            0.1            0.1
borrowed funds‡
Other expenses                                                                                       0.05            0.05
B. Total FC                          0.65           0.65            0.85            0.85             1.14            1.14            0.9            0.9
II. Total costs                      4.40           3.60            4.85            3.15             6.26            6.26            5.2            4.3
III. Gross profit (I 2 A)            10.75           3.43            5.00            3.20            22              10              12.6            5.5
IV. Net profit (I 2 II)              10.10           2.78            4.15            2.35            20.74            8.86           11.7            4.7
V. Wage of family labour§            3.75           2.5             2.50            1.75             5.00            5.00            3.8            3.1
V. Real Profit                        6.35           0.28            1.65            0.60            15.75            3.86            7.9            1.5
Explanatory Notes: * Daily depreciation of fishing gears/equipment: Gill net ¼ (purchasing price)/(Number of fishing days per year £ life cycle); [Assuming
that the Salvage value is equal to zero]. Normally, the fishers use the gill net, ranked from 80 to 100 m, for their daily fishing; Boat ¼ (purchasing
price)/(Number of fishing days per year £ life cycle); [Assuming that the Salvage value is equal to zero]; Engine ¼ (purchasing price)/(Number of fishing
days per year £ life cycle); [Assuming that the Salvage value is equal to zero].
  Maintenance/repair: Daily repairing ¼ (Yearly repairing expenditure)/(Number of fishing days per year).
  Interest rate: Daily Interest rate ¼ (Fund borrowed £ Interest rate)/360.
  Estimated daily wage of family labour: based on hired daily wage rate of labour in the studied village. During the open season, two family members (family
head and a child) go fishing, whereas, in close season, only the family head go to fish (i.e. one person). (Details provided in Hap & Bhattarai (2006)).


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